Sons of a gun

By STEVE SPINKS

sport@northernstar.com.au

REGULATE your breathing ... make small movements ... concentrate ... relax and ... shoot.

Air rifle shooting is all about the details.

That's what you'll find out on Thursday nights at the Goonellabah Table Tennis Stadium, which is nestled at the back of the Goonellabah RSL Sports Club, where a small but committed club has sprung up under the guidance of Ollie Andrews.

Andrews, a long-time shooter and former soldier in the Australian Army, only moved to the Northern Rivers two years ago and he's keen to grow the air rifle club with an emphasis on junior shooters.

"It's great for teaching discipline," Andrews told The Northern Star.

"Anyone from 12 years and up can join.

"There's no powder or anything and it's completely safe. I'm very strict with safety."

Twelve-year-old Lismore Heights Public School pupil, Jay Mitchell, is a recent arrival at the club.

And he loves it.

Mitchell plays soccer and athletics, but he reckons air rifle shooting is just as much fun.

"I like soccer a lot," he said.

"But it (shooting) is fun because it's different."

His mother, Mrs Mitchell, had no qualms about the youngster joining the club.

"We came up during an open day and had a look around," she said.

"Ollie looks after the kids really well and it's got to the point now that Jay doesn't like to miss his shooting at all."

Sixteen-year-old Kalam Waller, of Lismore, joined for a different reason.

"My Dad is in the Army," he said.

"I thought maybe I might join one day.

"But shooting is really fun and I'm not really into team sports."

Luke and Trent Preston have also become regulars at the range.

Both started because their father was a sporting shooter and the competition between the brothers is intense.

Asked who is the better shooter, Luke replied: "Me, of course."

Luke's other sport was lawn bowls.

An air rifle range is just 11 metres long, but that 11 metres can be difficult to negotiate.

There are five targets grouped on a single page and a score out of 100 to shoot for.

There are left-hand and right-hand targets and shooters are allowed two improvement shots at the end of their shoot. This is to improve on their two worst targets.

Andrews reckons most Olympic shooters would have started off with air rifles.

Who knows, the next Michael Diamond or Russell Mark could be coming from the Goonellabah Table Tennis Stadium?

n Anyone interested in joining the air rifle club can call Ollie Andrews on 6624 7497 or 0414 622 272.



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